30 April 2014

How to blog?

Now, there is no way I can sit here and preach to you about how to blog. Not for one minute. Because I am far from the perfect blogger. There are some tips I'd be more than happy to pass on but actually, whilst browsing the interwebs and blogosphere looking at sewing stuff the other day, I came across this brilliant video from Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons, speaking at a Folksy Summer School in August 2013. Tilly was a contestant on the first series of BBC2's The Great British Sewing Bee. After the series, she left her full time job to spread the sewing bug; designing patterns, writing tutorials, blogs, and books, and she has had great success.

Tilly's talk, entitled Craft Your Blog, is a brilliant collection of mini-stories, hints, tips and thoughts on how to make more of your blog. And sewing — or being a professional blogger — doesn't have to be your thing! There is plenty of good stuff in here for every blogger. Even if you listen to it in the background whilst you're pottering around doing something else, I highly recommend it. It made me realise how much I already know (and simply don't do), how much is common sense, and how much more I could be doing.




Also, I want to mention this year's Blog Every Day in May #BEDM series hosted by Elizabeth of Rosalilium. I took part last May, thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend! I would do it again this year but I know I simply don't have enough time to keep up. It was a great way of discovering new blogs, as well as promoting your own blog. Elizabeth is great at organising the whole thing too. Click the above link to join the list and recieve the list of topics. So far, over 70 people have signed up! And the list of topics look great.

Any blogging tips you're burning to share? And are you going to take part in #BEDM this year?

Jen

27 April 2014

Sewing Saturday and a sewing page

This was totally supposed to be posted yesterday but I got somewhat waylaid... by sewing no less!

Since I finished the Sewing for Beginners class at Bristol's Folk House in March, I don't feel like I've done much sewing, hence the Sewing Saturday hiatus, but actually I did a couple of bits.

In other news, I've decided to have a Sewing page on the blog which will list my completed items with links to the blog posts, where relevant as well as those I have planned.

Completed...

Wash bag

I made this as a gift to my Mom for Mother's Day, with this pretty flowery cotton and a waterproof lining inside the zippered pocket. Sadly, I made this in sewing class from a pattern the teacher Karen had so I'm not sure which one it is. Once I find out, I shall update this post.


Gingercake Getaway Duffle  |  ~£4  |  Child size (Adapted)

This was a gym bag for a friend and it ending up being a feat of construction (for me, anyway!) because I attempted to adapt it in a similar style to Vanessa of {lbg studio}, with a pink section along the bottom. Being quite new to sewing, I decided to take a shot in the dark and contact both Vanessa and Gingercake's Virginia for any tips or hints. They were ever so helpful! And if it weren't for their assistance, I'm not sure I would've managed it.

In terms of fabric, I opted for some Robert Kaufman Essex Linen — a cotton linen blend — in ivory and hot pink from Emma's Fabric Studio each for £8.40/metre, where you can buy by the quarter metre.

The trickiest part was trying to work out the length of the handles but I got there in the end, after quite a bit of unpicking. I was reasonably pleased with the outcome but if I made it again, I probably would've used a stiffer material.

Not the best photo, so do head over to {lbg studio} to feast your eyes.




Working on...

New Look 6968 - Misses' Dress  |  ~£6  |  View A

My first dress! I had a few different fabrics in my stash to choose from after a trip to London's Goldhawk Road but as it is my first project, and will potentially be susceptible to mistakes, I opted for some cheaper cotton. This spotty green caught my eye and was a good price at ~£4/metre. I started cutting everything out on Tuesday and after around 8 hours of sewing yesterday I'm probably about 50% of the way through. Cannot wait to finish! Watch this space for a completed post.



Craving...

Sewaholic's Belcarra Blouse!


So, what have you been sewing?

Jen

24 April 2014

The year in books: April

It's almost May and I'm only just posting this! Tsk tsk. I've actually changed the format a little, which I cannot take the credit for since I saw it over on Vivatramp. Let's get started!

March...

the rosie project - graeme simsion (2013)

date finished: 4 March 2014   |   ISBN: 1847375693   |   pages: 327 (Kindle)


I finished this in just 4 days; which is pretty fast for me. It was a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is how unconventional a love story it is that makes it pretty special! The language made it an easy read and the storyline kept me hooked, wanting to see what was to happen to each of the characters. Unfortunately, I can't give it five stars as I found the ending a little out of touch with both reality and the rest of the book. Don't read any further if you don't want to know what happens! I mean, I was really happy that they got together but for this to happen, Don essentially had to completely change some of his traits. In the book, Don is portrayed as having very strong Asperger syndrome and having dated someone with the syndrome, I know it isn't very realistic for someone like this to just change who they are and their approach; it simply doesn't happen as easily as the book seems to suggest. In addition, the ending felt quite rushed and without nearly as many details as the other events in the book. However, if I wasn't somewhat aware of how people with Asperger syndrome interact, I doubt I would've noticed this element. So, on the whole, a rather good read.

rating: ★★★★☆


April...

Once again, to coincide with the book club I am part of via work, April's read is The Farm by Tom Rob Smith.
Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden, the country of his mother's birth. But with a single phone call, everything changes.

Your mother...she's not well, his father tells him. She's been imagining things - terrible, terrible things. In fact, she has been committed to a mental hospital.

Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: Everything that man has told you is a lie. I'm not mad... I need the police... Meet me at Heathrow.

Daniel is immediately caught between his parents - whom to believe, whom to trust? He becomes his mother's unwilling judge and jury. Presented with a horrific crime, a conspiracy that implicates his own father, Daniel must examine the evidence and decide for himself: who is telling the truth? And he has secrets of his own that for too long he has kept hidden...


Also read in March...

the book thief - markus zusak (2005)

date finished: 30 March 2014   |   ISBN: 0552773891   |   pages: 560 (Kindle)


I really wanted to like this. No, based on the reviews and others' recommendations, I wanted to love it! But the frank truth of the matter is I didn't. In fact, I really wasn't very moved by it at all. It's a sad and unfortunate story but sometimes I got quite annoyed with the meandering style of storytelling. See, I even want to write a longer review but I just don't really have anything left to say. Maybe it was the build up but this left me feeling a little 'meh' to be honest.

rating: ★★★☆☆



Reading now...

Bad Wolf - Nele Neuhaus



Jen

Want to take part in The Year in Books project?
Visit Laura's April link-up post at The Circle of Pine Trees blog to add yourself to the list and grab the button she's very kindly created. You can take part using the hashtag #theyearinbooks on Instagram and Twitter. There is also a Pinterest board and a Goodreads group. I know; great, right?

13 April 2014

April Playlist

Quite upbeat and dance-y this month. Enjoy!



Jen

02 April 2014

Love me Tinder?

The men I've dated thus far in my life, I've met in a number of different ways. Internet dating has not been one of them.*

If I'm honest, the thought of internet dating has never floated my boat. I'm not against it but I've never considered it a good fit for me. Perhaps a brief explanation of why I'd convinced myself of that might help?
  • People liken internet dating to meeting someone in a bar or club, perhaps just with extra information. But I've never really been interested in meeting a guy in a bar or club.
  • I can be pretty cold with people I don't know. Not good first date material surely?
  • It's a scenario in which everyone is being their 'best self'; inadvertently answering internet dating profile questions with the answers they expect will make them more attractive. Without realising it, I'd probably end up being what I think a good date is supposed to be rather than actually being myself? e.g. not sarcastic. I envisage a point where my date declares 'You're not like your profile...'
  • It all feels pretty contrived. I realise life is but usually not in an ever-present sort of way.
  • Maybe I'd assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that the ginger hair wasn't going to work in my favour.
  • My attraction to men has often been independent of their looks. No, I'm not saying I fancy ugly men. I am saying, in the past, a gent's personality and sense of humour has (genuinely) raised them dramatically above my initial evaluation of their appearance. This is the same reason I am rarely attracted to celebrities; I know little of their personality. Yes, I am saying personality and sense of humour are what ultimately hold my attraction and attention.
  • I came to a realisation that I desire a minimum level of intelligence in a man. As such, I don't have a physical type but definitely an intellectual type. But I've convinced myself it is unfair to actually judge potential suitors on this. Or at least, it makes me feel like a bad person. But surely, it's no different than a height preference? It's just a bit easier to ask someone their height compared with how many GCSE's they have. (I wouldn't actually ask that. Well, not like that...)

I realise my hang-ups with internet dating are all quite possibly in my head? But I continue on in this fashion.

Cue a discussion in the pub last week about the internet dating app currently causing a frenzy; Tinder. Assuming it's just another variant of the same old formula, the above points instanteously run through my head and I almost stop listening. Several demonstrations later and assurances that it's fun and has produced results, I realise I am intrigued. The idea that it presents the opportunity for an ego-boost I personally find less compelling but it was agreed by all that being 'matched' with someone does give one a lift in the confidence arena.

How does it work? Simple; you swipe someone's picture right if you like them/their description/photos, left if you don't. If that person also swipes your picture right (i.e. they like you), you're 'matched'. If two people don't right-swipe each other, neither of them are any the wiser.


And so, I went home and I downloaded it. Yup, someone convinced that internet dating isn't for them. After all, what harm could it do? And I told myself if I don't enjoy it, I can simply uninstall and carry on with my life, carting my internet dating hang-ups in tow. In the very least, it would be something of an experiment and perhaps a worthwhile blogging opportunity.

But they were right; it is fun.

There are a few things that will certainly make me left-swipe (and there are enough examples of these):
  • Photos of you with a child / children. I am not going to spend the time trying to ascertain if you're a father. I'm not ready to be a mother to my own children never mind someone else's
  • Text speak and typos
  • A long list of your social media usernames, especially your Blackberry pin and Snapchat
  • Some blurb about your company, website or the charity you are fundraising for. Just no. 
  • A selfie of you in a vest at the gym / in your bathroom / in bed
  • Photos of you with someone we can safely assume is your ex

So far, I've swiped left a lot (I'm choosey! And that whole not being compelled by someone's looks alone thing isn't helping...), had a few conversations and been invited for a drink later this week. An invitation I found myself accepting.

We'll see how this pans out...

Jen

* That was one time, I was 14 and it was idiotic travelling 12 miles to meet someone I'd met on the internet! At least I had the presence of mind to make the meeting place a busy shopping centre and to take my best friend with me!
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Image credit: Denis BocquetCC BY 2.0